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Pheochromocytomas are rare tumors, most often benign, in the central part of the adrenal glands (the medulla). They are often isolated and can be hereditary.
They generate hypersecretion of adrenaline and norepinephrine, often leading to high blood pressure, headaches and heart problems. If they are large and the hypersecretion is significant, they are life threatening (risk of heart attack or stroke).
Treatment involves surgery, with the removal of the tumor, usually by laparoscopy. In order to stabilize blood pressure during the operation, a specific medication is administered prior to surgery to patients with highly secreting pheochromocytoma.